Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Another example of the need to invest in public infrastructure: Crack in the Hernando de Soto Bridge shuts down I-40 over the Mississippi River

A crack in a steel beam on the Interstate 40 bridge, near Memphis, Tennessee, connecting to Arkansas and Tennessee over the Mississippi River.  Photo: Tennessee Department of Transportation ("Memphis' cracked I-40 bridge creates headache for traffic, shipping," AP).

The Biden Administration has big plans for public investment in infrastructure ("Biden Details $2 Trillion Plan to Rebuild Infrastructure and Reshape the Economy," New York Times).  

The Republicans aren't much interested and are criticizing Biden for having a more expansive definition of what infrastructure is.

The Republicans are definitely uninterested in raising corporate tax rates to pay for public goods ("Republicans draw 'red line' in negotiations with Joe Biden on infrastructure package," USA Today).

There are two issues with infrastructure.  One is maintaining what we have.  The other is investing in new infrastructure.

So much of US infrastructure was built 40-100 years ago, and is at the end of its useful life, necessitating improvements, especially in response to changes in regulatory requirements, etc.

Photo by Josiah Persad.

The failure in the structural integrity of the Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis, which has shut down the bridge, which connects Tennessee and Arkansas via I-40, is an example of the former problem.  It is expected that repair will take months.

President Biden's desire to invest in social care and child care infrastructure, an expanded rail network, etc., is about an expanded view of what infrastructure is.

Some of the earliest criticism by the Republicans in response to the proposal is that infrastructure is only for cars.

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At 10:54 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

from you linked NYTIMES:

Among them: a total of $180 billion for research and development, $115 billion for roads and bridges, $85 billion for public transit, and $80 billion for Amtrak and freight rail. There is $42 billion for ports and airports, $100 billion for broadband and $111 billion for water infrastructure — including $45 billion to ensure no child ever is forced to drink water from a lead pipe, which can slow children’s development and lead to behavioral and other problems.

The infrastructure plan also aims to electrify 20 percent of the nation’s fleet of yellow school buses.

The plan seeks to repair 10,000 smaller bridges across the country, along with the 10 most economically significant ones in need of a fix. It would electrify 20 percent of the nation’s fleet of yellow school buses. And it would spend $300 billion to promote advanced manufacturing, including a four-year plan to restock the country’s Strategic National Stockpile of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, in preparation for future pandemics

Those listed are around a trillion. So another trillion out there in la-la land.

Very much doubt this bridge will be one of the top 10 to be replaced.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Too hard to respond with two thumbs... when I am on computer.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Well, I think like ARRA, it will be somewhat disappointing. There are a lot of needs, not enough money, and our planning system doesn't adequately list both the State of Good Repair projects, and the "projects that if we would do them they would have extranormal positive impact".

In transit specifically, like connecting the LIRR to Grand Central, merging NJ Transit and LIRR and Metro North for through running. Merging VRE and MARC for through running. Linking the blue and red subway lines in Boston which is only 1.500 feet! Etc.

Making sure where it can work, that transit is integrated into bridges.


So yes, it will be great and yet at the same time it won't be enough.

E.g., it's still about next generation asphalt nation, automobile dependent, just using electricity instead of gas.

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